Field & Staff--Unassigned
Organized at Philadelphia January 8. 1862. (Cos. "D," "G" and "H" ordered to Fort Delaware January 9, and duty there until March 19, 1862, when rejoined Regiment in Defenses of Washington.) Companies "A," "B," "C," "E," "F," "I" and "K" moved to Washington, D.C., February 25, 1862. Attached to Artillery Brigade, Military District of Washington, to August, 1862. Defenses of Washington north of the Potomac to October, 1862. 1st Brigade, Haskins' Division, Defenses north of the Potomac, to February, 1863. 1st Brigade, Haskins' Division, 22nd Army Corps, Dept. Washington, to March, 1864. 1st Brigade, DeRussy's Division, 22nd Corps, to May, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 18th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to December, 1864. Provisional Brigade, Defenses of Bermuda Hundred, Va., Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to April, 1865. 1st Brigade, Ferrero's Division, Dept. of Virginia, to May, 1865. Sub-District of the Blackwater, Dept. of Virginia, to January, 1866.
SERVICE.--Garrison duty in the Defenses of Washing north of the Potomac until May 27, 1864. (2 Independent Cos. Heavy Artillery assigned as Cos. "L" and "M" November 24, 1862.) Moved to Port Royal, Va., May 27-28, 1864, thence marched to Cold Harbor May 28-June 4. Battles about Cold Harbor June 4-12. Before Petersburg June 15-19. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. In trenches before Petersburg until August 23, 1864. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30. Duty on the Bermuda Hundred front until September. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. Fair Oaks October 27-28 (Co. "G"). Ordered to Bermuda front December 2, and duty there until April, 1865. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Duty at Petersburg until May, and in counties of lower Virginia, Sub-District of the Blackwater, District of the Nottaway, until January, 1866. Mustered out at City Point, Va., January 29. 1866, and discharged at Philadelphia, Pa., February 16, 1866.
Regiment lost during service 5 Officers and 221 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 5 Officers and 385 Enlisted men by disease. Total 616.
The 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery was so large that a new regiment
was created from its extra members.
Size doesn't always matter, at least as far as military fame and glory are concerned.
Take the case of the 112th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, otherwise designated the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery. At one time or another the names of more than 5,000 officers and enlisted men graced its rolls, making it the largest regiment to serve in the Union Army. So big did the unit grow that in 1864 a second "provisional" regiment was temporarily created from its ranks to satisfy the need for battlefield replacements. The "Second Heavy's" total battle losses in killed, wounded, and captured were among the highest of any Federal regiment. Yet the war service of this huge and unique organization remains generally an obscure chapter of Civil War history.
Recruited primarily from the Philadelphia area in the autumn of 1861, Colonel Charles Angeroth had no trouble filling the 2nd's ranks with men lured by the attraction of garrison duty. Ten batteries, or companies, were mustered into Federal service on January 8, 1862. When the new enlistees were sent to a camp of instruction at Diamond Cottage, a pleasure resort near Camden, New Jersey, many no doubt congratulated themselves on their choice of branch of service.
Companies D, G, and H of the regiment were soon dispatched to garrison Fort Delaware. The remaining seven companies moved in February to the defenses of Washington. There they performed routine duty in the fortifications north of the city. Unlike most heavy artillery outfits, the 2nd was initially issued shortwaisted, red-trimmed uniform jackets of the pattern regulation for light artillery companies. Many retained this distinctive garment throughout the war. Bedecked with brass shoulder scales and armed as infantry, wearing cartridge boxes on their waist belts, the men of the 2nd are easily recognizable in period photographs of forts protecting the Federal capitol.
In March the Fort Delaware companies joined their comrades in the 2nd around Washington. For the balance of 1862 the Pennsylvanians worked at improving existing fortifications and constructing newer ones. This labor included expanding Fort Massachusetts on the 7th Street Pike into a more formidable bastion. Later renamed Fort Stevens, this work played a key role in blocking General Jubal Early's advance against the city in July 1864. "Historians will not likely condescend to give credit to this regiment's part in the defense...." the 2nd's historian later correctly asserted.
Angeroth resigned from command in june. Augustus A. Gibson, formerly of the 2nd U.S. Artillery, replaced him. Two new independent companies of heavy artillery, were also added to the 2nd as Companies L and M in November, swelling the regiment to nearly 1,800 men.
In 1863 the regiment was officially assigned to the XXII Corps, Department of Washington. It continued to provide companysized garrisons to forts around the capital. Additional recruits seeking to "come in out of the draft" still flocked to the unit. Somewhat apologetically one member confessed that "the regiment became celebrated for its proficiency in drill and soldierly appearance, but to this time had no opportunity of displaying its skill in battle."
In 1864 that would change. Troops were sorely needed to bolster Union armies at the front during the upcoming spring offensive. Boasting a paper-strength in excess of 3,300 effectives, the rear-echelon 2nd was an overripe plum not to be ignored by the manpower-hungry War Department. On April 18 an order was issued authorizing the formation of the 2nd Provisional Heavy Artillery from "surplus men" of the original 2nd. Officers for the new regiment were drawn from the ranks of the parent command.
The Provisionals joined Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps on May 4 and fought as infantry in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. In a futile charge against Confederate lines at Petersburg june 17 the regiment sustained 250 casualties and nearly lost its colors. Frustrated by his lack of success, Burnside uncharitably called his new heavy artillery adjuncts "worthless." The Provisionais again suffered heavy losses on july 30 at The Crater, following Burnside's mine explosion. By late summer hard service had cost the spun-off unit nearly 1,000 men.
The original 2nd was also not spared the season's carnage. On May 27 the garrison soldiers were ordered to join Grant's army to replace staggering battle losses. Arriving near Cold Harbor on June 4, they were attached to William F. Smith's decimated XVIII Corps. Because of its unwieldy size, the 2nd operated as three battalions of four companies each. They, too, suffered severely in the june assaults on Petersburg and from the constant attrition of trench warfare.
Gibson appears to have come under fire of another type at the time. For unspecified causes, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtain solicited the secretary of War in june for Gibson's removal from command. Abraham Lincoln himself seems to have endorsed this action. Whatever the reason, Gibson was summarily relieved on july 21 and command of the large regiment fell upon Major James L. Anderson.
In early September the 2nd was reconstituted with the return of the surviving Provisionais to the main regiment. However, their days of intense combat were far from over. At Chaffms's Farm on September 29 the reunited unit lost 465 killed, wounded, and captured. A large number of "heavies" were taken prisoner after being trapped in the steep moat surrounding Confederate Fort Johnson on the Richmond intermediate defense line. Anderson, whose commission as colonel reached regimental headquarters the following day, was among the dead.
For the remainder of 1864 the Pennsylvanians occupied various points along Union entrenched lines both north and south of the James River. Their ability to multitask as infantry and artillery rendered them extremely useful for static defense purposes. Several companies were assigned detached service around Washington and on the Atlantic coast. Upon expiration of the regiment's original term of service in January 1865 a large number of men reenlisted. Despite its losses, additional levies restored the command to an aggregate strength of around 2,000.
When Grant launched his final offensive on April 2, 1865, most of the 2nd, now commanded by lieutenant Colonel S.D. Strawbridge, were serving on the Bermuda Hundred front. Two days later the regiment was ordered to proceed to the fallen Petersburg. After a grueling march, they encamped south of the city near the former Confederate Fort Mahone. There they remained for several weeks, performing routing provost duty. During this period, a number of enterprising "heavies" managed to have their likenesses taken by photographers recording scenes of the abandoned Southern fortifications.
After Lee's surrender most of the regiments companies were distributed throughout southeastern Virginia as part of the Sub District of the Blackwater. Not until February 1866 did the last gallant survivors of the "2nd Heavy" receive their discharges. During their term of service the command lost five officers and 221 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and five offices and 385 men by disease. Another 863 were reported as being captured. Heavy indeed was the sacrifice the men of the 112th Pennsylvania Volunteers made in defense of the Union.
Anthony Bersch--Co. B, 2nd Pa. Heavy Artillery. Killed at Petersburg. (Note: Cannot find any records on this individual. Need more information.)